No matter what sport it is, free agency is one of the most fun times of the offseason. And for the NFL, it's a time that can make or break organizations.
When looking back on past offseasons, there have been a number of times that a player has exceeded the expectations of their contracts. Jason Pierre-Paul, Alex Boone, and Derrick Shelby proved that point this past season.
But of course, there were also times when players failed to live up to their deals. Remember Albert Haynesworth? Complete bust. What about Brock Osweiler? That deal will be haunting the Houston Texans for a long time.
This offseason, of course, will be no different.
There are a ton of quality players on the free agent market — but, as is always the case, some will prove their deal was too small for their production while others can't justify the money. Teams become desperate in free agency and try to become a playoff team overnight, but it rarely works out that way. Free agency's a good market to plug holes on a team, but championship teams are built through the draft.
But who will be the most underrated and overrated signings of 2017? Let's take a look.
15 Overpaid: Mike Glennon
Mike Glennon will be one of a number of young quarterbacks that haven't had a chance to truly show their talents in the NFL that will be in line for a big-time payday this offseason. Drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round back in 2013, many thought he could eventually unseat Josh Freeman as the team's starting quarterback. He eventually did so, as he completed nearly 60% of his passes, good for 2,608 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and nine interceptions over 13 starts in his rookie season.
Unfortunately, however, the Bucs ended up taking Jameis Winston with the first overall pick two seasons ago, all but signaling the end of Glennon's reign in Tampa Bay. Teams like the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, among others, are in a position for a bidding war for someone like Glennon. Because of his youth and desperation of teams searching for their QB of the future, someone is bound to overpay him.
14 Bargain: Latavius Murray
Before Derek Carr went down with a broken leg, the Oakland Raiders were a powerhouse in the NFL — and with youth all over their roster, the organization is positioned for a very bright future. One of their best players was Latavius Murray, as the third-year running back was a do-it-all-for-you type of player for the Raiders. While many teams feature different running backs for different situations, Murray is a true threat in all facets of the game as he displays strength and speed as a rusher, can catch passes out of the backfield, and can pick up blocks.
The Raiders, however, will try to save as much money as possible and the emergence of DeAndre Washington will ease their decision in letting Murray walk. But at 27 years old, he's hitting the prime of his career — and since the running back position has seemed to diminish recently, Murray won't get a contract comparable to past rushers. Fortunately for the team that signs him, they'll get plenty of bang for their buck.
13 Overpaid: Eddie Lacy
When it comes to Eddie Lacy, he will face the same issues that Latavius Murray will face — less pay because his position has taken a hit over the years. That was never more evident than when Lacy went down with an ankle injury that required a place on the injured reserve list; not only did Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy replace Lacy with a wide receiver, but Ty Montgomery now looks like a long-term answer at running back (74 rushes, 458 yards, three touchdowns).
Throughout his brief NFL career, Lacy has dealt with injuries and weight issues — but because he was so productive at the University of Alabama and is just 26 years old, someone will give him a decent sized contract. It won't be before long when that organization will regret that decision.
12 Bargain: Cordarrelle Patterson
When Cordarrelle Patterson was taken with the 29th overall pick back in 2013, many believed the Minnesota Vikings took a reasonable gamble. While he played just two years of Division I football at Tennessee, his athletic ability was unmatched. Patterson's rookie campaign was an impressive one as he emerged as a threat as both a wide receiver and a returner — unfortunately, however, it was all downhill from there. Once Norv Turner took over as offensive coordinator, Patterson slowly lost his role, as he was relegated to return duties and was ranked on the bottom of the depth chart in 2014 and 2015.
In 2016, Patterson was named a first team All-Pro as a returner; and although he won't get a rich contract based on that alone, he still has the chance to become a true vertical threat on offense. And if a team can try to incorporate him into their schemes, Patterson could be worth more than what he'll sign for.
11 Overpaid: Martellus Bennett
Martellus Bennett has always had the physical tools to be an elite tight end in the NFL; it's been his character issues that have held him back. Whether it was with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants or Chicago Bears, he's found a ton of success on the gridiron but his fair share of criticism off of it. Fortunately, a move to the New England Patriots has been the best thing for Bennett as he's had a career season (55 receptions, 701 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns) and has been a model citizen off of it.
The Patriots, however, are known for boosting a player's value, only to let them walk in free agency. Bennett is in line to cash in on a major deal this offseason — unfortunately, however, the headaches he may bring along with him may not be worth the price.
10 Bargain: Dontari Poe
Whether it's because he's played for a smaller market team (Kansas City Chiefs) or because he doesn't play a premium position (defensive tackle), Dontari Poe has quietly dominated throughout his five-year career. Noted for his impressive combination of strength and athleticism, he's gone on to become one of the best dual-threat linemen in football, en route to two Pro Bowls. In addition, he's even flashed offensive skill as he's worked as a goal line running back and even threw a touchdown pass this season.
Poe's market won't be limited as he has the ability to play in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. Either way, no organization is going to give him a monster contract — which means he's bound to outplay the money that he gets. And since he's just 26 years old, there's a great chance he only gets better.
9 Overpaid: A.J. Bouye
A.J. Bouye has had a tremendous journey to the NFL, as he went undrafted out of the University of Central Florida and, slowly but surely, has climbed the depth chart of the Houston Texans. After starting off his career as a special teamer in 2013, Bouye worked as the team's number one corner in 2016 as he recorded career highs in tackles (63), passes defended (16), and also recorded his first career sack. Bouye — who's considered a big cornerback that plays physical and has a nose for the football — matched up well against some of the league's top threats, and he's in line to become a rich man this offseason.
The problem is, the going rate for cornerbacks is through the roof — and while Bouye has flashed immense potential, he'll still be hard-pressed to justify the contract that he will eventually sign.
8 Bargain: Tony Jefferson
For Arizona Cardinals fans, Tony Jefferson has grown before their eyes. Like Bouye, he, too, was an undrafted free agent that worked his way onto the field after impressing on special teams and eventually turning into the third safety on defense. All that said, 2016 was a career year for the young safety. Johnson paced the Cardinals with 96 tackles while forcing two fumbles and collecting two sacks as well. Working primarily as a run-stuffer, he complemented the ball-hawking Tyrann Mathieu to perfection, giving the team one of the better one two punches at safety.
Jefferson, however, has flown largely under the radar; and since he hasn't been mentioned as someone who's going to get a large sum of money on the free-agent market, he's bound to bring more to the table than his contract shows.
7 Overpaid: Terrelle Pryor
Like others on this list, Terrelle Pryor has been a tremendous success story. Once considered one of the quarterbacks of the future, a marred college career led to him not being allowed to enter the NFL Draft and he was subsequently taken by the Raiders in the supplemental draft. Despite playing quarterback during his three years with the Oakland Raiders, he failed to make it at the position with the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals. Pryor then took the risk of switching to wide receiver, which ended up being the best decision of his career.
In his first year as a pass-catcher, he hauled in 77 receptions, good for four touchdowns and 1,007 receiving yards. With Pryor standing out as a true top threat, there will be plenty of teams lining up for his services. Unfortunately, his inexperience may cause him to struggle, which in turn may make it hard to justify the money he will get.
6 Bargain: Pierre Garcon
When looking at the NFL's top wide receivers, there's a good chance you'll pass over Pierre Garcon's name time and time again. But whether it was when he was catching passes from Peyton Manning or when he signed a five-year contract with the Washington Redskins, he's been one of the most underrated players at his position. Noted for his route running and reliable hands, Garcon has been the type of player every team would love, as he's a reliable target with leadership qualities to boot. Since he's now 30 and has started to see his speed slightly diminish, he's not going to command top dollar.
But there will be some teams out there that believe they're a wide receiver away from competing for a Super Bowl. Someone like Garcon will give said team exactly what they need, and he'll be able to outperform what he receives monetarily.
5 Overpaid: Alshon Jeffery
From the day he was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Chicago Bears, Alshon Jeffery has always been someone who was viewed as a potentially elite receiver in the NFL. Throughout his five-year career, he's shown flashes of brilliance — including a two-year span where he collected 17 touchdowns and 2,554 receiving yards. But outside of 2012 and 2013, Jeffery has been as inconsistent as they come. Whether it's dealing with injuries or suspensions, the big-bodied pass catcher has had a tough time staying on the field as he's only played in 16 games twice in his career.
Jeffery is definitely going to get paid handsomely on the free agent market. Unfortunately, however, there's a strong possibility he doesn't live up to the hype.
4 Bargain: Eric Berry
Eric Berry is far and away, the heart and soul of the Kansas City Chiefs. On the field, he's one of the greatest players at his position; in his six-year career, Berry has been named as an All-Pro three times, a Pro Bowler five times, and is one of the most well-rounded defensive backs in football. At the same time, he's been a tremendous leader in the locker room and has done a number of great things for the community of Kansas City.
The 28-year-old is going to become a very rich man in free agency — and no matter what team signs Berry, they're going to get an elite playmaker with an amazing work ethic and personality to boot. No matter what he makes, he'll earn every penny.
3 Overpaid: Jamie Collins
If you're a fan of the NFL, you know that trades — especially during the regular season — hardly take place. The New England Patriots, however, aren't your normal NFL franchise; they further proved that point when they traded arguably their best linebacker in Jamie Collins on Halloween. Despite being one of the most versatile players at his position the All-Pro and Pro Bowler from the 2015 season has also been considered someone that has an inconsistent motor and also had some issues in the locker room.
The Cleveland Browns (who acquired Collins) have expressed their interest in re-signing Collins — but the buyers need to beware. When on a winning team, Collins displayed an up-and-down attitude. What would he do on a team that struggles to collect wins?
2 Bargain: Jason Pierre-Paul
When Jason Pierre-Paul lost nearly three fingers in a fireworks accident, many believed his career was over. But the former first-round pick of the New York Giants came back with a vengeance in 2016, and it showed up both on the field and on the stat sheet. Despite missing the final four games of 2016, JPP put up monster numbers for the Giants as he totaled 53 tackles and had seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and an impressive eight passes defended. Because of his hand issue and leery injury history, teams may not be willing to give Pierre-Paul exactly what he wants.
But JPP is both a premier pass-rusher and a top notch run stuffer on the edge — and no matter what team he signs with, he's going to make an impact.
1 Overpaid: Kirk Cousins
By placing Kirk Cousins atop this list is not to undermine him. Ever since he took over as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, he's proved to be the franchise player at the position that many have craved. The 2016 campaign was his second season as the full-time starter and he starred in the role as he compiled nearly 5,000 yards through the air while also chipping in 25 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions, good for a passer rating of 97.2.
But while he's shown the ability to excel, he's also in line to receive a massive paycheck — and that may be something that'll be hard to live up to. Whether it is the Redskins or another team, someone will give Cousins elite-QB money. Unfortunately, however, it just doesn't seem like he's that type of talent.
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